In the Wild: Though these tiny critters may seem too fragile and fluffy to be wild animals, hamsters can still be found in the wild today. In order to stay safe from daytime predators, hamsters are mostly active during the pre-dusk and post-dawn twilight hours, which is a trait known as “crepuscular.” During most other hours of the day, wild hamsters can be found in their burrows, hiding out from larger animals. In order to transport food to and from their homes, hamsters use their adapted cheek pouches, which can hold an impressive amount of seeds, fruits, and other tasty snacks.
Feeding: Just like their relatives in the wild, pet hamsters have large cheek pouches that extend from their cheeks down to their shoulders. Unlike their wild cousins, however, captive hamsters don’t need to use these as much, as there is no need to transport food such long distances—food should be readily provided for them in their own home. While hamsters eat mostly pelleted food, which should make up about 75% of their diet, this should be supplemented with fresh produce as well as all-natural Timothy hay. As a high-quality source of minerals and vitamins, Timothy hay helps to maintain your hamster’s digestive tract and overall health and should be offered several times a week.
Housing: Due to their minuscule size and stature, hamsters have much smaller cage requirements than other small rodents, however, they should always be given plenty of room to explore and exercise. Cages can be mesh or glass, as long as they are well-ventilated and lined with the appropriate bedding. In order to keep a hamster happy and fulfilled, an exercise wheel and other in-cage obstacles and entertainment should be provided. Hamsters should not be kept in the same cage together—particularly Syrian hamsters—as they tend to be territorially aggressive. Your hamster should always be kept in an environment with a consistent, 65-75 degree Fahrenheit temperature, to avoid putting them into distress.
Cleaning: Because they clean themselves, hamsters do not require washing or bathing by their owners. Their cages must be maintained, which includes weekly cleaning, daily maintenance, and changing of the cage bedding.
Be sure to talk with your vet about further guinea pig health advice, or to answer any questions you may have.